Kerri Sullivan-Kreiss, CFP®, AIF®, based her unbiased advisory agency, SullivanKreiss Monetary, in 2004. Having spent the earlier 13 years as an advisor on employees with a publicly traded firm, she needed to depart massive company agendas and proprietary funding merchandise behind. As president of her personal enterprise, Sullivan-Kreiss was desperate to develop a concierge service mannequin constructed round a powerful tradition of fiduciary duty to shoppers.
As Sullivan-Kreiss says, “I’ve all the time primarily based my enterprise on the basic principal of treating others as I wish to be handled. My goal is actually quite simple: to place our shoppers’ pursuits first, act with integrity, and embrace the individuality that every shopper brings to our observe.”
Throughout our conversations, the power of Sullivan-Kreiss’s dedication to this imaginative and prescient all the time shined via. The profitable progress of her agency may very well be seen as emblematic of the depth with which Sullivan-Kreiss engages with shoppers. It additionally highlights her extremely environment friendly use of time. To supply the personalised concierge service that Sullivan-Kreiss believes makes her agency particular, she has grow to be a grasp of time administration. She has realized find out how to function effectively and collect the mandatory sources to maintain progress and construct economies of scale.
In case you’re trying to go unbiased or develop a longtime advisory enterprise, understanding the facility of Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise decisions might allow you to chart the way in which towards optimizing your time and setting your agency up for long-term progress.
Constructing One thing Particular
For Sullivan-Kreiss, constructing shopper relationships is all about specializing in the journey with every individual you serve. With a view to develop a high quality observe, it’s a must to make every shopper really feel particular. That will sound elementary, however it’s essential to maintain high of thoughts. As she says, “It’s being there for shoppers via on a regular basis moments, celebrating life’s main milestones, and serving to to supply assist, encouragement, and, hopefully, consolation throughout troublesome instances.”
A proactive service mannequin. Ideally, SullivanKreiss Monetary shoppers shouldn’t get voicemail once they name, and follow-up to requests and considerations should be speedy and correct. However concierge service is greater than that: it’s being proactive versus responsive, going above and past what’s anticipated. Sullivan-Kreiss focuses on long-term, complete monetary planning; she isn’t focused on “merely being a cash supervisor.” This implies setting common critiques to maintain abreast of modifications in shoppers’ lives and assembly each two weeks when growing a plan for a brand new shopper.
The consequence? Sullivan-Kreiss has constructed one thing particular: a extremely engaged neighborhood of long-term shoppers. For her, that’s what makes the advisory enterprise rewarding and enjoyable. And there’s icing on the cake: in keeping with Sullivan-Kreiss, “The vast majority of my agency’s new shoppers come from referrals from current shoppers.”
Spending Extra Time with Purchasers
As you possibly can see, Sullivan-Kreiss’s enterprise mannequin is instantly tied to her spending as a lot time as potential with shoppers. Notably, like lots of her Commonwealth friends, Sullivan-Kreiss spends considerably extra time in shopper conferences than different business advisors. That’s in keeping with a 2020–2021 examine performed by Commonwealth in partnership with Cerulli Associates, which discovered that, on common, Commonwealth advisors spend 33 p.c extra time in shopper conferences than different advisors from each wirehouse and unbiased companies.
In reality, primarily based on additional evaluation of the info, Commonwealth’s Observe Administration crew decided that Sullivan-Kreiss ranked within the high decile of productiveness amongst Commonwealth advisors, primarily based on gross income, progress charge, and period of time spent with shoppers. This statistic speaks to the essential work Sullivan-Kreiss undertakes day in and day trip with the people she serves.
Attaining Scale and Effectivity
So, how is Sullivan-Kreiss in a position to spend a lot time with shoppers? There are inherent difficulties in scaling a concierge mannequin. Nonetheless, as she labored via fixing them, Sullivan-Kreiss realized that having the appropriate employees and agency companion may help facilitate enterprise scale and effectivity.
The ability of your folks. Sullivan-Kreiss delegates administrative, operational, and sure planning duties so she will concentrate on client-facing work. With three full-time employees members (a director of shopper relations, a monetary analyst, and an operations supervisor), she is evident on their significance to her enterprise mannequin: “My crew is phenomenal. What they do behind the scenes permits me to be good at my job and spend as a lot time as I can with my shoppers. Their strengths permit the agency to ship top-tier concierge-level assist—the personal touch we dedicate to each shopper.”
In line with Sullivan-Kreiss, her regular progress has been pushed by her crew’s stability of competencies. And that progress has introduced the agency to an inflection level, the place further employees is important. To deal with the amount of labor and maintain her productiveness excessive, Sullivan-Kreiss plans so as to add an funding supervisor and an extra advisor to the crew.
When requested about recommendation for advisors trying to develop, she states, “Some of the productive issues you are able to do is empower your folks and provides them room to develop. It’s completely key to have the appropriate folks on employees, notably those that have complementary expertise units to yours.”
The influence of your agency companion. Sullivan-Kreiss remembers her agency’s early years flying by in a blur, however she has all the time acknowledged the significance of a supportive agency companion. She explains, “Along with actually busting your derriere . . . it’s a must to domesticate the appropriate relationships with the appropriate folks. It’s essential to have a companion behind you that’s proactive and responsive.”
Like different unbiased advisors, Sullivan-Kreiss seems to her agency companion for a wide selection of back-office sources and assist. As a result of her work is grounded in monetary planning, she appreciates having specialists, similar to Commonwealth’s Superior Planning crew, available to speak via a fancy planning or retirement drawback.
As for funding administration, Sullivan-Kreiss acknowledges that this position is an ongoing problem for any unbiased agency. She prefers customized portfolio administration and, with the help of her monetary analyst, does quite a lot of her personal funding analysis. Nonetheless, if a shopper is on the lookout for a selected funding technique, she needs to have the ability to depend on her agency companion for specialised information. She receives that assist from Commonwealth’s Funding Administration and Analysis crew.
Finally, Sullivan-Kreiss says that your agency companion should be capable of present a “phenomenal stage of assist” that’s tailor-made to your wants.
Cementing the Cornerstones of Success
Being an unbiased advisor has allowed Sullivan-Kreiss to fully align her agency along with her values and shoppers’ finest pursuits. She’s been in a position to construct the agency she’s all the time dreamed
of, one primarily based on placing her shoppers’ wants first and powered by environment friendly time administration. Proper now, she’s targeted on the thrill of the current and accelerating much more progress sooner or later. Something is feasible along with her imaginative and prescient, a powerful crew, and Commonwealth’s partnership at her again.
In case you’re an advisor desirous to go unbiased, Sullivan-Kreiss’s recommendation is to do it as quickly as you possibly can. As for contemplating a agency companion, be thorough about due diligence and align with a agency whose values mirror yours. Final, however definitely not least, all the time needless to say you wish to go the place you possibly can develop, even when it’s one step at a time.
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